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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

National Federation of the Blind and American Council of the Blind file lawsuit against ASU over Kindle DX

Last week, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) filed a lawsuit against Arizona State University to prevent the university from issuing Kindle DX devices for the textbook pilot. The lawsuit says that the Kindle DX device features text-to-speech technology to read books aloud but the menus do not work in the same way so blind students will not be able to select a book and activate the feature. A blind student from ASU has been named as a plaintiff in the action and the NFB and ACB have also asked the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to investigate the other universities involved in the pilot – Case Western Reserve University, the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, Pace University, Princeton University, and Reed College.

In an article from Inside Higher Ed, Chris Danielson, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind says that the software to make the menus accessible to the blind does exist but it has not been added to the Kindle DX . If the universities adopt the Kindle DX devices as is, they are violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Virgil Renzulli, a spokesman for Arizona State commented that they are “committed to equal access for all students” and the university’s disability resource center will provide “the necessary tools so that all students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to be successful in their academic pursuits.” Amazon has not commented on the lawsuit.

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